Arsenic translocation in rice cultivation and implication in human health

José M. Bastías1* and Tatiana Beldarrain1
Arsenic (As) is a toxic metalloid for plants and animals. Large amounts of As have been released in arable soils through anthropogenic activities, use of contaminated irrigation water, and mining among others. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is one of the most consumed cereals worldwide; it is an important route of exposure for As. The objective of this review was to explain possible mechanisms involved in As absorption that contaminate rice plant through the soil and water, and to mention studies that have been conducted to minimize the risk of human exposure. The root is able to absorb and accumulate large amounts of As, but only small amounts are translocated to the grain and tillers. Arsenic concentrations in rice tissues decrease from the root to the grain. Information about As translocation in rice is sparse and research is directed toward studying the molecular mechanism of absorption and accumulation in the grain because it has not yet been explained. Some rice varieties have been developed that are resistant to high soil As concentrations and are not able to translocate the metalloid toward the root. Many studies suggest that not all ingested inorganic As accumulated in the gastrointestinal tract is absorbed into the bloodstream and produces toxicity. It is therefore recommended that As bioavailability be evaluated in imported or domestic Chilean rice to more precisely estimate human health risk.
Keywords: Inorganic arsenic, Oryza sativa, total arsenic, translocation
1Universidad del Bío-Bío, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud y de los Alimentos, Av. Andrés Bello s/n, Chillán, Chile. *Corresponding author (jobastias@ubiobio.cl)